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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

LAST ONE, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Last One" is a poem by William Stanley Merwin, a renowned American poet who was awarded numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The poem was published in Merwin's 2005 collection titled "Present Company". "Last One" is a poignant reflection on the impact of human activities on the natural world and raises important questions about the future of the planet.

Explanation:

The poem "Last One" describes a scene in which the speaker is standing alone, watching the last living member of a species. The speaker laments the loss of this creature and wonders about the fate of the planet. The poem conveys a sense of loss and regret for the destruction caused by human beings.

Poetic Elements:

Form: The poem consists of five stanzas, each with three lines. The use of tercets gives the poem a sense of rhythm and balance.

Theme: The poem explores the theme of extinction and the impact of human activities on the natural world. The speaker is mourning the loss of a species, and the poem raises important questions about the future of the planet.

Imagery: Merwin's use of vivid imagery helps to create a strong emotional impact. The image of the last surviving member of a species is particularly powerful.

Tone: The tone of the poem is somber and reflective, reflecting the speaker's sense of loss and regret.

Sound: The use of alliteration in the phrase "last one" reinforces the sense of finality and loss.

Language: Merwin's use of simple, direct language helps to convey the emotional weight of the poem.

Figurative language: The poem uses personification, ascribing human qualities to the last living member of a species.

Structure: The use of short, three-line stanzas gives the poem a sense of rhythm and balance.

Symbolism: The last living member of a species is a symbol of the destruction caused by human beings.

Emotion: The poem is deeply emotional, conveying a sense of loss and regret for the destruction of the natural world.

Poem Snippet:

"Whether it will become

a rope of handholds to climb

the future with, or whether it will become"

the last one":

In summary, "Last One" is a powerful poem that reflects on the impact of human activities on the natural world. Through its use of vivid imagery and emotional language, the poem raises important questions about the future of the planet and the fate of its inhabitants. The poem serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.


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